Tuesday, November 22

Any Ideas?

I got lucky yesterday and ended up at the Sixers game, which was the first game this season that I’ve gotten a good look at. And although we blew out the Nookch, a few issues stood out.

First, the good side. Our bench isn’t nearly as horrendous as I predicted, and it will get a nice boost when Steven Hunter takes his proper place there. He put down a few nice dunks and brings some energy to the court, but he’s not a starter. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if Ben Wallace pulls down 35 rebounds the next time they meet up. As far as the current bench is concerned, James Thomas is a poor-man’s Kenny Thomas (thankfully he gets paid like one), Kevin Ollie is Kevin Ollie, Lee Nailon is an absolute revelation, and I’ll get to Johnny Salmons in a minute. And that’s it. Our starters get major burn, and it’s really the only way we’re gonna win games year.

Michael Bradley has his own sign above section 207A. It says “Bradley’s Bunch.” This astounded me to no end last night, and every time I looked at it, I thought of how many times I’ve heard what a difference he’ll make to the team this year (20+) and how many times I took that claim seriously (zero). Check it out next time you get down to the stadium. It’s remarkable. Imagine if, unprovoked, the Phillies put up a sign with David Bell’s picture on it that read “The Bell Ringers.” It would be just that ridiculous, until you remember that David Bell starts, and then cried into your sandwich.

Hip Hop (our mascot) unloaded two cans of silly string on some dude in the 5th row. He probably sprayed him for a minute and half, all told. The guy was a good sport about it too. Great stuff when you're up 18 before the break.

As for our starters, they look good enough. Iverson will never let you down, and Webber is playing at 65% of his prime, which is to say, 200% better than last year. Korver has expanded his game slightly, mixing in a shot fake-step forward move, and is more willing to get to the hoop. Iguodala is shooting the lights out and playing as close to shut-down defense as you are allowed to play in the Nba.

This all leads into the big problem with the Sixers. They have absolutely no discernable offensive game plan. They could be a pick and roll team, with Webber and Iverson/Korver, but they’re not. They could go back to being a drive and dish team with Iverson at the helm, but this isn’t happening either. They simply don’t make any sense. I saw them call out and run a designed play to get John Salmons the ball in the corner. Where to go from there, who knows? Half of the offense revolves around Iverson beating his man off the dribble, but we don’t run iso for him. The other half involve getting the posting Webber up at the elbow and hoping for the best. My best account of our offense would be: Have Iverson take the ball up the court, look for a shot, dish to Webber, fiddle around for 8 seconds, end up with Iguodala shooting a three from the corner, and it falls or someone pulls down a board. That’s it.

While lamenting this dilemma in the third quarter, a guy in front of me turned around and said simply “oh no, you don’t want to ask that.” They are beyond any logical explanation. I really feel that if you asked Mo Cheeks “What is this offense designed to do?” he would stutter for 10 seconds and then tell a story about Dr. J dunking on Moses. The problem is, the offense is working. And until it stops working, nothing is going to change. Well, at least no one else in the league has a plan either, so just stick around while we wrap up the #3 seed.

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